You may also be able to get free help to work on improving the habits that raise your risk for diabetes, for example how you eat. Taking action early can prevent you from getting this dangerous disease.
Free Type 2 Diabetes Tests
Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly all health plans have to provide certain preventive care to their members at no cost. You likely won't have to pay a copay, coinsurance, or even a deductible to get these exams when they're used to help find conditions or diseases early, before you have symptoms.
- A type 2 diabetes testcan tell you whether you have prediabetes or diabetes. Your regular doctor can do this test for you or else tell you where you can have it done.
- A cholesterol testlets you know your cholesterol levels. People with abnormal cholesterol and high triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood) have a greater risk of having type 2 diabetes. If your levels are not in healthy ranges, improving them may help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- A blood pressure check lets you know if your blood pressure is in a healthy range. High blood pressure is another sign that you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Following a treatment plan to lower high blood pressure can lower your risk of heart disease.
- A gestational diabetes test when you're pregnant shows if your blood sugar levels have risen to unhealthy levels. Being treated to bring your levels down helps prevent pregnancy complications. It also helps identify you as having a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Free Preventive Services for Type 2 Diabetes
In addition to having your blood checked for type 2 diabetes, you can use free services to help you improve habits that affect your chances of getting diabetes.
- Nutrition counseling can help you make healthy food choices to prevent diabetes or to control your blood sugar and weight.
- Obesity screening and counseling can help you understand if your weight is raising your risk for type 2 diabetes. With obesity counseling, you may be able to lose weight and lower your risk. Even losing as little as 7% of any excess weight can make you less likely to get type 2 diabetes.
Who Can Get Free Testing and Prevention Services?
Most health insurance companies must cover these services. The exceptions are the grandfathered plans, which are health plans that existed before March 2010 that have not made significant changes to their benefits, and short-term health plans, those in effect for fewer than 12 months. Check your health plan's summary of benefits to see if you can get free preventive care services.
Why Is Testing and Prevention So Important?
People with prediabetes and diabetes often don't have any symptoms. Experts estimate that millions of people may have prediabetes or diabetes and not even know it. That's why it's so important to be tested before you have symptoms.
If you have prediabetes and don't take steps to improve your health, you have a 15% to 30% chance of developing diabetes in 5 years. You also have a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
The good news is that with testing and focus, you have a fairly good chance of preventing type 2 diabetes. What it often takes is losing a few pounds and getting in more activity every day, such as walking more.
If you have diabetes and don't get treatment, it can cause harm to your whole body, leading to:
- Eye problems, which can cause blindness
- Hearing loss
- Skin infections
- Problems with your feet, which, if left untreated, can lead to amputations
- Kidney problems
- Nerve damage
- Stomach problems
- Gum disease
- Heart disease
- Stroke (If you have diabetes, your risk is 1.5 times higher than for someone who doesn't have diabetes.)